EU Parliament

Juncker State of Union LIVE: EU boss demands EU-wide Euro, all-powerful President snubs UK

JEAN-CLAUDE Juncker has delivered his much-anticipated State of the Union speech with a snub to Britain by insisting the European Union (EU) will move towards greater integration despite Brexit.

The EU chief, who began speaking at 8am this morning, set out his 12-month masterplan to steer the troubled bloc through the escalating refugee crisis and reform the eurozone.The European Commission president is expected to barely mention Brexit in his address at the European Parliament in Strasbourg as he instead focuses on the EU’s future without Britain.

Keen to push ahead with his masterplan, billed as the biggest reboot in the EU’s history, Mr Juncker will aim to ratchet up the federalisation of the 60-year-old bloc’s core economies.

The Brussels boss has also called for EU integration in the face of rising populism after Britain voted to sever ties with the bloc ahead of crunch elections in Italy, Sweden, Hungary and the Czech Republic, where eurosceptic parties are gaining momentum.

It appears Jean-Claude Juncker is keen to make his mark in the EU as his five-year term as European Commission president expires in 2019 with a grand masterplan to rebuild the bloc, left in tatters after Britain’s momentous decision to leave.

Mr Juncker this morning announced the European Commission would begin negotiations with Australia and New Zealand for new trade deals.

The Commonwealth nations are already tipped to become the first targets of trade deals with Britain after Brexit.

Follow here for live updates on Juncker’s big addresss… 

Juncker EU speech GETTY

Juncker is delivering a speech in Strasbourg

9:48am: Nigel Farage is up and he is on course to defend Britain He described Juncker’s speech as the most “open and honest and truly worrying” speeches he has ever heard from the EU chief.

The former Ukip leader said: “The message is very clear: Brexit has happened, new steam ahead. One powerful president for the whole of the EU. A finance minister with fresh powers. A stronger European army in a militarised European Union. And more Europe in every single direction and all to be done without the consent of the people.

“It is reminiscent of regimes of old. Indeed the way you’re treating Hungary and Poland already must remind them of living under the Soviet Communists. All I can say is thank God we’re leaving because you’ve learned nothing from Brexit.

“If you’d given Cameron concessions … I have to admit, the Brexiet vote would never, ever have happened. You’re deluding yourself Mr Verhofstadt, if you think the populist wave is over. Far from the populist wave being over, I doubt it’s even begun.”

Nigel Farage EBS

Farage has accused the EU of not learning since the Brexit vote

Farage looks on as Verhofstadt attacks him EBS

Farage looks on as Verhofstadt attacks him

9:28am: Guy Verhofstadt, one of the EU’s Brexit negotiators, is up and he has taken the oppportunity to lay into the UK He said: “What the difference from last year. I liked your speech, I thought it was full of ambition for 2019 and quite a difference from last year. But let’s be honest, a lot has changed.”

He mocked the failed populist leaders who failed in the Austrian, French and Dutch elections.

Mr Verhofstadt said: “Even in Hungary said there is no way Hungary would leave the union. Mr Orban, Ms Le Pen, Mr Wilders – Welcome to the side of reason – the only one who still doesn’t get it is Mr Farage.

I don’t think they are so stupid to do that – it’s clear our citizens don’t want to destroy Europe – no bloody way.

“Let’s not make the mistake that the war is over. What the people want is a reformed European Union. ”

He added: “I want to say [to them] welcome to the side of reason! Even though we know they have not changed their mind … but through fear of losing votes.

 Guy VerhofstadtEBS

Guy Verhofstadt has laid into the UK and Nigel Farage

9:25am: British MEP Syed Kamall has urged Brussels not to be so sensitive to constructive criticismHe said: “Being critical of the policies of the EU should not be seen as an attack on the EU.”

And he said less Europe, not more, would help make the bloc a success.

Mr Kamall said: “They prefer an EU that compliments their national and local governments, not one that overrules them.”

He compared Eu growth plans to the Soviet 5-year plans, saying they did not create jobs in themselves.

9:19am: Italian MEP Gianni Pittella said a “new wind of hope blowing over Europe”.

He said citizens believed that “without Europe, they were more on their own, less defended”.

Mr Pitella added: “We have done well, but we have only one bullet in the gun and we can’t shoot it wrong.”

He called for more to be done to reduce migration and to help those on the front line of the crisis, like his native Italy.

The Italian added: “Thank you for your recognition of Italy but, and I say this as a European not an Italian we must do more.

“We must create legal routes for migrants … We have to have a partnership with Africa, which I would define as the partnership of dignity.”

Gianni Pittella EBS

Gianni Pittella said a ‘new wind of hope blowing over Europe’

9:13am: Merkel’s ally Manfred Weber is now speaking He said members must he said “defend the future of European life”.

Mr Weber said: “We must defend the identity of Europe. We must defend the European way of life.

“We will also be successful, let’s start now.”

Mr Weber also expressed his suspicions of Russia’s intentions in Europe and called for an end to the proposed pipeline development from the country into the bloc.

He said: “A lot of people are worried about the images that they see – we need to police and protect our borders. Illegal migration needs to be stopped. A lot of people are shocked by Turkey.

“What is Putin planning now? We have to defend ourselves – European defence is a good idea. It is a priority. This is why we should stop Nord Stream 2.”

9:09am: Mr Juncker has completed his speech to a thunderous applause..

Although Nigel Farage and the majority of the British delegate remain seated with their arms folded.

Manfred weber EBS

Weber says the EU must ‘defend the European way of life’

9:07am: Mr Juncker said he hopes post-Brexit Europe is even closer than ever before, calling for universal membership of the eurozone and Schengen AreaThis may worry some states, including Ireland, which remain outside of the Schengen Area.

Ireland in the Schengen Area would also highly complicate the issue of the Irish border, which after Brexit would be the only barrier between the UK and the EU.

He said: ““My hope is on 30th March 2019, Europeans will wake up in union where they know we are respecting their values. Where full member of eurozone Schengen Zone … is standard for every member of European Union.”

He urged Europe to unite and work together before the next crisis emerges.

Mr Juncker said: “When the next storm brews, and it certainly will, it will be too late. Let’s set sail, let’s get going and let’s catch the wind in our sails.”

9:04am: Mr Juncker has just laid into Britain saying “Brexit isn’t everything” 

He said the day Britain finally unshackles itself from the bloc will be a “sad and tragic moment in our history”.

He said: “We will always regret this and I think you will regret it soon if I must say.  Nonetheless we have to we will move on.

“We will respect the will of the people, but Brexit isn’t everything, it’s not the be-all-end-all, it is not the future,” adding members must focus on the future of the EU.

Juncker speech live EBS

Juncker is calling for a ‘more unified’ Union

8:58am: The EU boss has recommended merging the presidencies of European Union and European Council into one single position. He added: “This is not aimed at myself and not aimed at Donald [Tusk] … the European landscape would be clearer.

“If we just had a single president – A single president will be at the helm of the work of the Commission and Council.”

8:54am: Mr Juncker has hinted at the bloc’s controversial plans for an EU Army 

He said: “In the field of defence more effort is required. The setting up of a European defence fund is on our agenda. By 2025 we will need a functioning European Defence Union. We need it and NATO would like us to have it.”

8:52am: The EU chief appears to be meeting France and Germany halfway with plans for a independent EU finance minister. 

But he said the symbolic role should be taken by a current vice-president in order to strengthen the troubled bloc’s economy.

He said: “We need a European Monetary fund which needs to be anchored in the European Union. We need a European minister of economy and finance, a minister to promote structural reform in our member states. Euro-wide taxes in the EU don’t need treaty change as long as it is decided in the European Council.

“We do not need parallel structures we need a strong eurozone budget line within the EU budget.

“Nor do I see no value in a separate euro parliament.”

Juncker speech live EBS

European members listen to Juncker’s much-anticipated speech

8:50am: Mr Juncker says a strong single market is the route to a stronger EU He praised the eurozone and called for a tighter monetary bond across the bloc.

He said: “Europe needs to be able to take decisions more rapidly and more efficiently. We need to see a more agile economic and monetary union. The euro area is more resistant to shocks than it was a few years ago.

“We need a European minster of economy and finance … to promote structural reform in our member states.”

8:48am: Mr Juncker has just ruled out Turkish EU membership in “forseeable future” 

In a strongly-worded rant, he said: “Turkey has been moving away from the European Union in leaps in bounds. Journalists belong in editorial offices … not in prison.

“I appeal today to the powers that being Turkey: let our journalists go. And not just our journalists.

“Stop calling our heads of states fascists and Nazis. 

“Turkey want to pull up the drawbridge and blame Europe … From our side there will always be an outstretched hand.”

8:45am: Juncker has called for an extension to the free-movement Schengen Area

He said: “It is high time to bring Romania and Bulgaria into the Schengen area. And incidentally, Croatia too deserves full membership. if we want the Euro to unite our continent rather than dividing it.

“All but two member states are duty bound to join the Euro area. These member states need the support of a euro accession instrument.”

8:42am: Mr Juncker is back on the posted workers issue

He said: “We need to make sure all EU rules on worker mobility are implemented fairly, simply and effectively and for that we need a new European supervisory and implementation authority.”

Juncker speech live EBS

Juncker has ruled out Turkey EU membership in the near future

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